Nikki Basham has completed levels 1 and 2 in electrical installation at Sheffield College, and is now doing her level 3. WEST awarded Nikki £100 towards tools and electrical tester in 2017.
What inspired you to study electrics?
To be honest, there wasn’t anything that did inspire me. I didn’t know what to do when I was leaving school, so I just picked anything – but then I found out that I enjoyed it. It was just a chance thing, and my mum said that if I didn’t enjoy it, I could change.
My dad makes tools for a living, and I used to like helping him out, but I knew I didn’t want to work with him! So I picked a skill that wasn’t the same as his. I didn’t want to do plumbing because I don’t like toilets. Decorating is boring, it’s just painting. So I went for electrics. It was a bit random really.
What do you like about electrics?
I’m proper academic, but I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day, I couldn’t think of anything more boring. I like the idea of actually doing something, and starting something where you get an end result. It could be wiring a whole house, or just a light. You’ve got all the parts on the floor, you fit it – and it lights up! Then you can say, wow, I did that.
What’s it like studying a male-dominated subject?
There are about 18 of us, and this year there are two women. It was a bit daunting at first – I only knew one person there, and not very well. But it was fine, I became mates with everyone. Not once did I have comments about being a girl, and I was shocked about that. Mind you, if they’d said something, I would have said something back! Sometimes the lads say that we get special treatment, but that’s not true – the teachers treat us all the same.
What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
Probably a horse rider.
Plans and ambitions?
I want to pass my level 3 and get an apprenticeship. After that, I don’t know if I want my own business or to work for a firm.
Longer term I would like to be a probation officer or a prison officer, but I think I am too young and naïve for that right now, I haven’t got enough life experience. So I might do electrical while I am young. It’s good money so I could save up and pay my university fees.
I’m keeping my options open. But I will definitely become an electrician if someone takes me on, and you never know, I might even stay as an electrician!
Advice to other girls and women thinking of becoming electricians?
If it is something that you want to do, then definitely do it. You have as much right to do it as a boy does. You get treated the same as everyone else, you don’t get singled out.